Early Spring Lettuce Planting Warms Gardener’s Heart

Today was a great day – it SNOWED!  Yes, for about 30 minutes we actually had snow, and, no, none of it stuck, but just to see and feel those soft, wet flakes come down was a joy.  I know, it’s cruel to speak like that when winter’s clenched fist has yet to flex even a knuckle over much of the country, but I have been in Portland long enough now to have become a winter wuss, so that means I  get excited about snow.  Out here snow is more conceptual than actual; there are usually no consequences to it – it comes down; everyone is giddy; it melts immediately.  Today I had the good fortune to be up on the rooftop when the snow fell, so it was all the more dramatic.
But as it was snowing and 36 degrees, it was cold on the roof, and the thing that kept me warm, aside from a good hat and scarf, was the lettuce I was planting.

 I started these guys from seed on Jan. 10, and they were already ready to go out, so after a few days of conditioning in my unheated greenhouse, out they went.  I take a gambler’s approach to a lot of my gardening.  Try to get stuff in as early as possible and if it takes a hit from the weather, oh well, there’s more coming behind it, but should fate favor me with exceptional weather, then I’ll take the bragging rights for first lettuce.  Anyway, these aren’t just any lettuce, they are Little Gem (or Little Gems, as one seed company calls them) – just about the cutest darn lettuce you’ll come across.  They’re baby romaines, and as such they maintain the eagerness and bright-faced approach to life of a child that’s never had to mature, never had to come to terms with the dark side of life.  When I got them all planted in a nice, freshly prepped bed I took an inner, cold-banishing pleasure in how good and green and hopeful they looked.

I wasn’t about to let these little innocents suffer any more than they needed to.  I got busy quick to tuck them into bed, giving them the Rot’s standard season-extension treatment…a nice see-through plastic comforter (aka cloche or mini-greenhouse).  To make sure they didn’t get crushed by all that love, they first got a reinforcing wire arch overhead.
Then the plastic – some new 6-mil, UV-treated, greenhouse film, cut to fit the bed more or less and then clipped on to the edges of the raised bed with multiple, heavy-duty metal clips.  I was especially interested in getting them in today because we’ve got a week of sun (though still cold) coming in the forecast, and I knew they’d appreciate a nice, cozy reception to get them off and growing.
So that’s how it is in Portland, the land where it rarely snows and bold gardeners plant lettuce in early February!

2 thoughts on “Early Spring Lettuce Planting Warms Gardener’s Heart

  1. Haven’t been up yet, but I’ll let you know how they are looking after both freeze and snow. Usually it goes better if the severe weather comes after the snow, but this time it was reversed. Lettuce are pretty tough customers, so we’ll see.

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